SECOND row Andy Hore says that team spirit will be a vital ingredient if Basingstoke RFC are going to challenge for promotion from London One South.
’Stoke have overcome a couple of early season setbacks to win their last eight league games, a run that has seen them move up third in the table.
To have a chance of promotion they must end the season in the top two – and their fine run has seen the Down Grange club move to within five points of Chichester, who currently occupy second spot.
Hore admits that Basingstoke will probably have to win all of their remaining games to turn their dream of promotion into reality – but he believes that the excellent team spirit fostered by the club will help them achieve this.
“I think we probably have to win all of our remaining games to get into that play-off spot,” the 24-year-old said. “We will have off days but we have to work through those.
“It felt like we were just a group of players playing together early on but now we feel more like a team. We did not seem to gel as well as we would have hoped early on but now we are getting into the same rhythm that we had last year.
“We are doing a lot more together socially as a team, which is a really good thing. If the players on the team are your friends, you are more likely to go that extra mile for them, which is what you need.”
Basingstoke’s next big test comes on Saturday, when they are due to travel to fourth-placed Wimbledon. Hore admits that it will be a tough afternoon but seems confident that ’Stoke can emerge victorious.
“Going to Wimbledon is going to be a major challenge for us,” he said. “Talking to some of the boys, they are a bit nervous because Wimbledon are on a good run – but so are we.
“It is the sort of game we have got to win if we are to get promoted but I do not think we will be aiming for a bonus point. We just need to make sure we win the game because that would move us further clear, while a win for Wimbledon and they will be catching us up.
“It’s the sort of game that you never have any trouble getting up for.”
That was not the case in Basingstoke’s last game against bottom side Old Colfeians. ’Stoke won the game but were unable to secure the four-try bonus point on a dismal afternoon at Down Grange.
Hore said: “As soon as the game kicked off it became clear that we did not have the normal buzz about us. It was just one of those games but we managed to win, even if we did not get the bonus point.
“We kept dropping the ball and our normal abrasiveness was not there. We won the game but should have put a lot more points onto them.
“We should be better than that, no matter what the weather is like. We let it get to us and did not adapt well enough. We were trying to play with our normal width when it was probably a day for sticking it up the jumper.”
While most of the Basingstoke squad are constantly looking over their shoulders, Hore and Jake Henderson seem to have a firm grip on the second row positions.
Hore clearly enjoys playing alongside Henderson – but he admits that the club could do with a bit more strength in depth when it comes to the second row positions.
“With Steve Drawbridge leaving and Matt Brougham injured, there is not the same level of competition there was last year,” Hore said. “That is a good thing because you know that there will be consistency in selection but it’s bad because if there is not competition, people can get complacent.
“Jake is the person I like to play with though because we are different sort of players. He keeps things tight, while I like to get the ball and run, so we complement each other. We have also grown up together, playing through the age groups, which really helps.”